Willy finds Nancy, the girl he fancies, dead in her room in Hotel Morpheum one day. He too stays in the same hotel. Willy is a misfit- jobless, an ex-convict, totally lacking in social skills, living in his own world and highly volatile. He never pays his rent, but the landlady keeps him there as he is good with tools and comes handy. Police and other lodgers believe Nancy had overdosed on cocaine, but Willy is dead sure she was murdered. He knows that because her favorite statue is missing from her room.
Willy also knows that Mr. Winkley- her one-eyed cat is the sole witness of the crime. He takes in the cat and embarks on a journey to find the killer; knowing that finding the missing statue is the key to it. The line of suspects is long and in the end of it stands Willy himself- he has the tendency to forget things that he did. He has a vision of the killer in the cat’s eye, but how will he reach to that person? And who is going to believe him?
In a Cat’s Eye is the debut novel of Kevin Bergeron, published by Authonomy, an online community for budding writers, developed by HarperCollins. It is a short novel, slightly longer than a novella. The story is narrated in first person, through the eyes of Willy. It is essentially a detective novel, though the detective in this story lacks most of the basic qualities assigned to one conventionally in the genre.
Willy is an unreliable narrator and it is this quality that makes the novel distinguished. There is an ambiguity that surrounds his rants, which should alienate the reader after a point of time. But here it doesn’t happen. I was drawn into the story and started rooting for him in a very subtle way as it progressed. All the other characters in the hotel are nutcases and equally unsociable. All of them seem possible murderers. This motley crew of suspects adds uncertainty and vibrancy to the plot. Only the all-knowing one-eyed cat is the sane being.
One more aspect that I liked about the plot is the kind of unveiling effect that it has on the reader. The background of the story is provided in bits and pieces and as the narration progresses, the picture becomes clearer and clearer. It adds to the suspense. The weak point of the novel, for me, was the lack of flesh in it- non-existence of detailing. I love descriptive novels. But considering the protagonist’s condition, it has to be excused. To sum it up, In a Cat’s Eye is an engaging novel, that never overstay its welcome.
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